RF Cookbook: A Fashionable Love Triangle

by Jacqueline Tobin

June 26, 2013

  All photos © Zabrina Deng

When it comes to fashion shoots, Zabrina Deng says each one requires an extraordinary amount of pre-production work, including storyboarding each scene; planning out and hiring someone to do the wardrobe, styling, hair and makeup; and setting up the lighting for each set, among other tasks. “Every aspect of the shoot has to contribute to what we are trying to say in the photograph,” Deng explains. “I love having a lot of creative control when shooting fashion and I’ve always loved seeing how a garment makes a woman look and feel.”

Deng, along with her husband Jeremy Chan, is part of the destination wedding and portrait duo known as JeZa Photography based in San Francisco. The pair, who travel the world to shoot engagement and wedding sessions that incorporate drama, glamour and passion, say they now are working hard on incorporating more fashion editorial work into their shooting repertoire and hope to get the work published on a regular basis. “It really fuels our creativity, which in turn adds more value to our [wedding] clients,” says Deng. (So far, they’ve been published in Vogue Italia’s PhotoVogue, UK’s Stuff Magazine (Chinese edition), and Elle Wedding (Hong Kong).

The fashion narrative highlighted here includes images for which Deng recently won first place in the fashion category of WPPI’s 2013 16 x 20 Print Competition.

Set in the 1960s when traveling was a far more glamorous endeavor, says Deng, the basic premise is that Courtney (blonde-haired model) and Sara (red-haired model) are very good friends who both get to know airline pilot Ben separately. “Ben is handsome on the outside, but also a total playboy and eventually gives them the same scarves as gifts,” Deng explains. “Because this story takes place when aviation was a well-respected, glamorous and in-demand industry to get into, I chose natural, soft, clean and simple studio light to complement the fashions as well as show how the girls fall into the scene of being in love naturally.”

Deng’s backdrop for the shoot was the Oakland Aviation museum, a place she and Chan drive past all the time when they travel out of the Oakland airport. “The way these planes are preserved at the museum, coupled with my fascination with 1960s fashion icon Twiggy and the avant-garde wardrobes she often wore, made me want to shoot there,” says Deng, “so I contacted the museum and got a permit.” 

Assembling all the different elements of the shoot—the models, retro wardrobe, makeup and hair—was a collaborative effort with makeup artist Regard Tang, who is Deng’s cousin. “She is well-connected with the fashion industry in San Francisco so she helped gather the models, wardrobe and hair stylists for this project,” says Deng. “It took about one week for the prep work, time spent on storyboarding, location scouting, wardrobe and prop prep work. The success of the shoot really lies in the hard work of everyone on the team, including Regard and wardrobe stylist Renata Gar, who spent multiple days gathering the amazing wardrobes and accessories we ended up using.”


Cameras: Nikon D700 (top); Sony DSC-RX1(bottom)
Lenses: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED; f/2.0 35mm Carl Zeiss (on Sony DSC-RX1)
Aperture: f/3.2 (top); f/2.8
Exposure: 1/200
ISO: 400 (top); 250
Lighting: SRS Strobies, Octagon Softbox, Tiny Triggers (wireless remote triggers and receiver)
Location: Oakland Aviation Museum of California 
Software: Adobe Photoshop
Comments: “With these two images I wanted to depict glamour, self-contemplation and feelings for someone that often
defy logic,” says Deng.

Models: Benjamin Kline from Look and Courtney from Scout (top image)
Sara from Scout (bottom image)

LIFE magazine photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt-Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images, November 30, 1936. Reprinted with permission from The LIFE Picture Collection.


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